Blog Archives

Dear Hero by Hope Bolinger and Alyssa Roat – Book Review


Dear Hero is a YA superhero chat fiction released by INtense Publications on 28th September 2020. I was contacted by one of the authors and gifted a copy for the purposes of an honest review. The blurb made me swipe right but was the story a perfect match?

Book Cover


About the Book


TWEET CUTE X I HATE EVERYONE BUT YOU

Up-and-coming teen superhero Cortex is on top of the world—at least, until his villain dumps him. If he’s going to save his reputation, he needs a new antagonist, and fast.

Meanwhile, the villainous Vortex has once again gotten a little overeager and taken out a hero prematurely. Will any young hero be able to keep up with her? Maybe she should work on finding a steady relationship with an enemy she won’t kill in the first round.

So the two turn to Meta-Match, a nemesis pairing site for heroes and villains, where they match right away. After throwing punches at each other behind coffee shops, practicing their fight choreography, and hiring henchmen to do their bidding (mostly just getting them coffee), they begin to realize they have a lot more in common than just names that annoyingly rhyme. 

But not everything in the superhero world is as it seems. Who are the real heroes and villains? And just how fine of a line is there between love and hate? When darkness from the past threatens them both, Cortex and V may need to work together to make it out alive. 

About the authors


Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University’s professional writing program. More than 700 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from HOOKED to Writer’s Digest. Her boarding school drama Blaze, (Illuminate YA) released in June, and the sequel Den released July 2020. She’s a theater nerd, occasional runway model, is way too obsessed with superheroes, and may be caught in a red cloak, fairy wings, or a Belle costume in her downtown, for no reason. Her favourite way to procrastinate is to connect with her readers on social media (@hopebolinger). Check out more about her at hopebolinger.com.


Alyssa Roat grew up in Tucson, Arizona, but her heart is in Great Britain, the inspiration for her YA contemporary fantasy Wraithwood. She is the publicity manager at Mountain Brook Ink, a literary agent at C.Y.L.E., a freelance writer, and an editor with Sherpa Editing Services. She holds a B.S. in professional writing from Taylor University. She has also worked for Illuminate YA Publishing, Little Lamb Books, Zondervan Library, and as the online editor and a staff writer for The Echo News. Over 200 of her works have been featured in various publications, from newspapers, to national magazines, to anthologies. Her name is a pun, which means you can learn more about her at http://www.alyssawrote.com or on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook as @alyssawrote.


What I Thought


This book was so much fun and just what I needed. Structured like Tinder and then WhatsApp chats I love how much we grew to know the characters. They even actually meet, we just have them chatting about their meet ups after the fact, rather than “seeing them” live.


I was wondering if the format would sustain for the whole story and I’m pleased to report that it did. More characters are introduced as we move forward and there is lots of witty banter to make this a pacy read.


As well as a meet cute, we have a break up and trying out other partnerships, and I think this says as much about modern dating as it does about superheroes. Are these two meant to be together, and what sort of relationship are they destined for?


If you enjoyed Despicable Me and love superheroes then I’m pretty sure you will enjoy this. There are lots of nods to well known heroes and villains and plenty of brand new characters. I’d definitely swipe right to a follow up read.


If you read this I’d love to find out who your favourite character was and in the meantime tell me your favourite superhero/villain pairing in the comments.


Thanks to Hope for reaching out to me on my blog and for the gifted copy.

Eugenius – The Musical – Review

It has been around a week and a half since I saw Eugenius at The Other Palace – huge thanks to my friend Clarissa who said I would love it and let me have her spare ticket. Spoiler – she was right and I may now be a little obsessed. I’m sad that it’s unlikely I’ll be able to see it again before the run is over but if you can get to London and get tickets before the 21st October please do. You deserve this joy in your life. This show is so much fun and definitely deserves a full West End transfer and/or a U.K. tour (include Poole Lighthouse or Bournemouth if you do the tour please).

Set in 1988 (when I was 10) this is a show for geeks (and I suspect written by geeks – Ben Adams former A1 lead singer (and yes I did own their albums) and Chris Wilkins). It’s about Superheroes and friendship and the 80s and the music is supremely catchy, and there’s a dance at the end that will see everyone getting involved. You won’t be able to resist.

If you can’t get to see the show then the soundtrack is available, including a sing along version. I may have listened to it a few times!!!

Personally I was sold, and had a grin on my face, from the opening moment where our protagonist Eugene opens up a Book Light!!

There are pop culture references galore and if you want to go in without knowing anything more don’t read my list of references spotted further below.

The cast was excellent – especially the main trio of Eugene, Janey and Feris played by Rob Houchen (who reminds me of Aaron Tveit tonally), Laura Baldwin (who smashed The Future is Bright and had a touching reunion with her vocal coach after the show) and Dan Buckley (No Pants Dance had me creasing). Their songs were flawless and my favourites in the show – my top two got reprises too.

The passion from the whole cast and crew was so apparent when Clarissa and I saw it on the opening night of the revised run (with feedback from its first run taken on board and acted on). It’s still not quite perfect but it’s pretty damn close. Personally I wasn’t too sold on the fish people and I felt the staging of the song Hollywood was a little static (Clarissa mentioned preferring the first run choreography). There were also a couple of lines that I would consider removing to make this show much more family friendly, specifically the Cabbage Patch Kid comment and pervert in the bushes line in evil. I am glad they revised Super Hot Lady’s main song – although both the original version of her song (which I heard on the soundtrack) and the casting couch reference are very much a social commentary on how female actresses and superheroes were treated in the 80s (and relevant to the Me Too movement raised in Hollywood recently).

(Side note prompted by the family friendly comment – we met the most adorable Eugenius superfan and fellow Hufflepuff, and his mum, and I got to teach him the Hufflepuff handshake). If you happen to be reading this. Hi, hope you managed to get back to see the show again.

Lessons learned from the show

• If a colleague has a wardrobe malfunction (Hector had a knob fall off) make sure to pick it up to avert any accidents. That’s what Tough Guy would do, or even Lex!

• Don’t do the worm with a backpack on.

• Nerds Like Numbers – Geeks like gadgets.

• Be Tough but be Fair (with a motto like this I think Tough man is a Hufflepuff)

• Friends will be there for you.

• Don’t shoot for the stars – aim higher!!!

If you loved We Will Rock You and Starlord in Guardians of the Galaxy then I think this has similar vibes. This show deserves all the success.

Potential Spoilers – Pop Culture references. Mostly 80s based.

Film and TV mentions

Star Trek vs Star Wars – non GEEK confusion (Gasp)

Star Wars*- Yoda chat up lines and Ewok (Wickett)

Splash and its (not explicitly named) comparison to The Shape of Water

Footloose

Flashdance – She’s amazing = She’s a maniac homage

Dirty Dancing – Like the wind line in She’s Amazing

? Grease 2 – Who’s that guy song

Peter Pan – Second Star to the Left

Gremlins

Goonies – Hey you Guys

ET

The Neverending Story – mention of Atreyu in Hollywood (and btw YOU had a mega crush on him and cried when he cried when Artex downed in the swamp)

Karate Kid – wax on wax off

Big – Zoltar

Superman

Supergirl

Batman

Wonder Woman

The Flash

Flash Gordon*

Top Gun

Terminator

Rocky – Eye of the Tiger line in song

Nightmare on Elm Street – Freddy Krueger

Robocop

Indiana Jones

Beetlejuice (and stylistically Theo’s character looked like a cross between Otto and the guy from Mannequin)

Mannequin – window dresser at Macy’s

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Ghostbusters

Back to the Future – Eugene’s Marty McFly style outfit

Transformers – Megatron

Scooby Doo – cheerleader outfits look like Velma’s Jumper/skirt combo

Knight rider

Lost in Space – Kevin the Robot

Fraggles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

He Man – Skeletor – We’ll have the power

Thundercats – Snarf

Eldorado (I loved the total cheese of this show)

Harry Potter – very subtle ref with – less of the wizard stuff line – Nb: I can make most things relate to Harry Potter somehow

Musicals/Music influences

Blood Brothers (Hector and Tough Man – brothers separated at birth)

Papa can you Hear Me – Fiddler on the Roof

Gypsy

Chicago – Lex intro reminds me of Billy Flynn

Prince – 1999

Michael Jackson dance moves

Olivia Newton John/Jane Fonda dance moves

Flock of Seagulls hair

Journey

Evita

Things

Bum bags

Cabbage patch dolls

People

OJ Simpson

Jean Claude Van Damme

George Lucas

Kevin Bacon – did he get a name check?! I think so.

Stan Lee – Sun Spot, Bim Bam Boom(?), and Mephisto (I was not familiar with any of these (& Marvel in general)

*Guest vocal appearances by:

Brian Blessed

Mark Hamil

Warwick Davis (sings Hector’s part on the soundtrack)

Finally, I wasn’t sure I spotted any John Hughes film refs but … is the Eugenius semi-arm punch choreography an end of Breakfast Club Bender punch or a Grease Summer Night’s Travolta ear slide punch??

If the writers read this I’d love to know if I’m right on any of the less explicit references and if there are any I missed.

Ps. I totally ship EuJaney!!!

%d bloggers like this: